Wednesday, April 6, 2016

No Love without Forgiveness

It was a challenging journey to get to Arabal, a village located in Baringo South, that has been marred by cattle rustling and violence in the past. Travelling on the rough roads and hilly slopes was not smooth sailing, but despite all this, God did make it possible for the Creators of Peace (CoP) team to get to the final destination where they facilitated a Peace Circle for 20 women  between 17-19 February, 2016.

Women from two communities; - Tugen and Indoroi (a small ethnic group that is closely related to Tugen) were ready for the training. Most of the women had been displaced because of the cattle rustling violence. Baringo County has for decades been marked by tit-for-tat cattle raids and the occasional attendant fatality. Some had a lot of bitterness due to their loss, blaming the Pokot and recently, the Ilchamu who they said have also started attacking them and stealing their cattle. They shared about their lives and pain of separation from their children and how they live with constant fear.

The women found a lot of relevance and significance in Peace Circles and they were grateful to have the opportunity to participate. Their lives were being transformed one woman at a time.

Pauline had a decent life with her family but this was cut short when some of her husband’s family members conspired to ensure her husband lost his job as the headmaster of a local school. For years, she had a lot of anger and bitterness towards the family members who had brought their misfortunes. By the end of the first day of the Peace Circles, she had already experienced some change of heart and had started the journey of freeing herself from the pain and hurt. When she went home that evening, she reached out to her “enemies” with forgiveness and they reconciled as a family. She had made a bold step of forgiving herself and all those who wronged her husband. ‘There is no love without forgiveness and there is no forgiveness without love,’ she said.

Damaris was struggling with bitterness because her parents failed to take her to school and married her off as a young girl.  Peace Circles helped her understand better the meaning of forgiveness and she made a decision to let go of the anger she had carried for many years. The women learnt that even though they were bitter, ‘they still had room to forgive the Pokot and Ilchamu.’

As a way forward and putting peace into practice, the women participants agreed and requested to meet with the people from the Pokot community to begin a peace dialogue. They expressed the desire to go back to their matrimonial homes and reunite with their families and for this to happen, they felt that dialogue was paramount with the aim of reconciling with each other.

Even though the Tugen community felt discriminated in job opportunities and they also felt that the government was not doing enough to recover their animals stolen by the Pokot, they were pleased that the Deputy County Commissioner, Mr Felix Kisalu, recognized the efforts of the women in that area to build the peace.

The Creators of Peace team were appreciated too for their efforts to bring peace in Arabal despite the difficulties of getting to the area.

The Creators of Peace Kenya team are grateful for the financial support made through a Swedish grant  which enabled this Peace Circles training to take place. The team is also grateful to IofC Kenya for the general support that they offer to ensure the success of the program.

Facilitated and reported by Annastasia Thama and Annie Njeri Gitu